PASADENA, Calif. -- Hate crime victim and local organ donor Reat Underwood was featured prominently on the Donate Life Float in the 128th Rose Parade on Monday. Reat was featured in a floragraph on the float in the Pasadena parade.
“We believe that up to 50 people were helped by the donations that he made of his own organs, so it`s a very special way to honor a very special person,” said Alana Muller, a long-time family friend.
Reat was murdered by white supremacist Frazier Glenn Cross outside the Jewish Community Campus in 2014. His grandfather, Dr. William Corporon, was also murdered.
Reat's parents - Mindy Corporon and Len Losen, along with his brother Lukas - all attended the parade and were VIP guests on the grandstand.
“I loved watching the parade on television, so I sort of had a behind the scenes look, Mindy`s doing a really good job of sending Facebook Live feeds and videos, pictures of her experience in Pasadena,” said Muller, who has been friends with the Corporon family for years.
Muller said it was amazing seeing so many people honored, including Reat and his family.
“I was so thrilled that the Donate Life float was going to be honoring Reat, and featuring his floragraph, because not only did he have a beautiful smile, and he was a wonderful person, but in addition, he made it very clear that he wished to be an organ donor,” added Muller.
Just under one year before his untimely death, the 14-year-old signed the back of his driver`s permit to be an organ donor.
“There were 60 floragraphs, or images, of organ donors featured on the sails of this float, and 24 people who had been organ recipients were rowing the floats, or at least pretending to row the float, as it moved down the street,” Muller said, “On the sides were 12 people who were actually living organ donors.”
A family friend sponsored Reat's floragraph and his mom, Mindy, helped decorate the float.
“There have been thousands of hours spent on this gorgeous float, and in fact, it won one of the awards, the theme award, and seeing it on television today and seeing it come to life was just really special,” Muller added.
Muller said you don't expect to see someone close to you, especially at such a young age to become an organ donor.
“It shows just how much impact one individual can have,” said Muller.
She said she's amazed by how strong the Corporon family has been.
“The attitude and faith that Mindy and her family have shown has been, not only remarkable, but truly an inspiration for our entire community,” Muller said.
Reat's decision inspired the formation of "SevenDays" - a week-long local event focusing on interfaith dialogue and spreading kindness to counter evil and hate.
This year it happens April 18th-24th.